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7 Hidden Gems in Fresno, CA

Jon Fesmire | December 7, 2020 @ 12:00 AM

It’s tough to dispute the fact that Fresno is a great place to be if you love the outdoors. After all, the city is close to King Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, Sierra National Forest, and Yosemite National Park, King Canyon National Park.


Of course, those are fantastic places to go on a weekend or week-long trip, whether you want to camp in your RV, in a tent, or in a cabin, and spend your days hiking and exploring these beautiful, natural areas.


The thing is, there’s a lot to do closer to home, in and just outside of Fresno, and these particular spots aren’t so well known. When you have a day or a few hours free, consider visiting one of these hidden gems.

Forestiere Underground Gardens


Though it sounds odd Forestiere Underground Gardens is indeed a network of underground rooms and tunnels and home to an extensive garden. Back in the early 20th century a Sicilian immigrant to Fresno, Baldassare Forestiere, dug this labyrinth. He used basic farm tools, like shovels, picks, and hammers, to create this amazing space where he planted fruit trees and grapes.


Since this is a well-protected historical site, visitors can only see it by taking a one-hour tour. Forestiere used Roman architecture techniques to build archways and walls. You can check out not only the gardens but his subterranean home. This is a wonderful place to visit during the summer because the temperatures are 10 to 30 degrees lower than above.


Fresno County Wine Journey


Twenty minutes west of downtown Fresno the start of Fresno County Wine Journey. San Joaquin Valley may be a lesser-known wine country in California, but it’s very much worth checking out. This organization, run by the Twin Rivers Vintners Association, takes you on a wine-tasting tour of 13 area wineries. Within Fresno itself, you’ll find Fresno State Winery and A. Nonini Winery, while just outside town you’ll visit Cardella Winery, Engelmann Cellars, Kings River Winery, Lomac WInery, Marechal Vineyards, Marian Farms, Moravia Wines, Ramos Torres Winery, Simonian Farms, Tioga Sequoia Brewing Co., Valley Oak Winery, Yribarren Family Vineyards, 559 Beer, and Ziveli Winery.


Doing the full tour, or even a partial tour, makes a great day trip for wine lovers.


Meux Home Museum


If you love Victorian architecture and the feeling of stepping back into the past, check out Meux Home Museum. This 16-room mansion was the home of one Dr. Thomas Richard Mieux, and a visit includes an hour-long guided tour of the house and the guardian. Prices are affordable, and children four years old and under get to visit for free.


If you want to keep that feeling of visiting the past going, you can also visit St. John’s Cathedral across the street on the same trip.


Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater


Since 1973, Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater has been delighting audiences with dinner and a show. What’s more, the well-crafted meals reflect the theme of the musical or play which adds to the immersive experience. This may be a hidden gem, but it’s truly a Fresno institution.


Recent shows have included Annie, Into the Woods, Footloose, Damn Yankees, and Man of LaMancha. During the COVID pandemic, shows are on hold but will begin again once life has returned to relative normalcy.


You’ll need to purchase tickets, and children under five are not allowed. The experience begins at 4:00 pm on the day of your visit. Self-guided or docent-guided tours. Private group tours during non-public hours that last 45 minutes to an hour.


Simonian Farms


This family farm lies on the southeastern side of Fresno between farmland to the south and suburbs to the north. One of the main features is the Big Red Barn, the on-site store selling produce, wine, nuts, and other food. You can take a self-guided tour of the premises and discover antiques from the 1900s to the 1940s, including the original 1946 Santa Fe Caboose.


Simonian Farms hosts fun events. Kids can enjoy mining for gold and gemstones, and adults can experience wine tasting in the saloon. There’s also a shooting gallery and an old fashioned candy and soda shop. You can also book personal or company events, a great way to give your family or company a unique experience.


Standard Sweets & Spices


Are you a fan of Indian cuisine? Then let’s visit northern Fresno and step into Standard Sweets & Spices. Do you want to grab ingredients to cook Indian food, or dine in their semi-hidden cafe? You can even get your groceries or food delivered.


Dishes featured in the cafe include samosa chana, butter chicken, and chicken curry. Check out the menu on the website, though, which has nearly two dozen delicious dishes.


Vineyard Farmers Market


Set in an open-air, vine-covered framework of a building, the Vineyard Farmers Market near downtown Fresno is a wonderful place to purchase fresh ingredients from the farmers who grow them. There’s quite a variety, too. You’ll find vegetables from bok choy to peppers to okra, fruit from strawberries to persimmons, plus goat cheese, beef, pork, and a lot more.


There are a few dozen vendors, including Cheng & Mao’s Produce, Garcia Farms, Three Sisters Organics, and Rocky Oats. This is a great place not only to get some fresh food but to get to know the local growers.

As you can see, there are a lot of fun hidden gem things to do in Fresno/ Whether you’re new to the city or a long-time resident, we hope this helps you find something new to enjoy. And, if you need a place to keep some of those souvenirs, your camping gear, or other important stuff, look to Derrel’s Mini Storage as your self storage solution.

Jon Fesmire
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